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Think You’re Too Old for a Thyroid Problem? Think Again.

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It is rather amazing that a gland as small as the thyroid (which is located in your neck and is shaped like a butterfly) can have such an enormous impact on your health and overall well-being. Throughout life, this “master gland” is constantly producing hormones that influence metabolism, which in turn impacts everything from your heartbeat to your vision to the regularity of your bowels.

Thyroid conditions affect more than 12 percent of the U.S. population; that’s over 20 million Americans. But up to 60 percent of those people do not realize they are suffering from thyroid problems. That’s because the symptoms of both hyperthyroidism (thyroid hormone levels that are too high) and hypothyroidism (when levels are too low) are easily confused with other conditions ranging from depression to stress to simply overeating.

As people age, our bodies do experience normal age-related changes, and it’s easy to discount problems by saying, “I’m just getting older” or “That’s normal for my age,” but are you actually suffering from symptoms that could be the result of hypothyroidism, or an under-active thyroid? Hypothyroidism is not an issue isolated to younger adults! Have you considered that symptoms like fatigue, depression, weight gain, constipation, and dry skin could actually be caused by low thyroid levels in your body?

While these symptoms could be easily attributed to other medical problems, in older people, signs of hypothyroidism can be even more confusing. In people over 60, any of the following health issues–alone or in combination–could be the result of hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormone levels:

  • Unexplained high cholesterol–In older adults, high cholesterol is occasionally the only sign of an under-active thyroid. Even if this is the only symptom, a high cholesterol level warrants a thyroid evaluation.
  • Heart failure–Some of the effects of low thyroid hormone levels– including reduced blood volume, weaker heartbeat, and/or a slower heart rate– may contribute to heart failure, a condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood effectively to the muscles and organs of the body. Symptoms of heart failure can include breathlessness, swelling in the ankles, weakness, and fatigue.
  • Changes in bowel movements–Hypothyroidism can cause constipation because of decreased movement of stool through the bowels. Less often, an older person will have frequent bouts of diarrhea, which is more often a symptom of an overactive thyroid. Persistent or severe diarrhea in an older person merits a call to the doctor and a thyroid blood panel.
  • Joint or muscle pain–Vague joint pain is a classic symptom of hypothyroidism. In fact, it sometimes is the only symptom of hypothyroidism in older patients, although many experience generalized muscle aches, particularly in large muscle groups.
  • Mental health concerns–In people of all age groups, depression is a common clue of an underactive thyroid. The difference is that in older people, it is sometimes the only symptom. Older people may also develop other psychiatric symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations.
  • Dementia–Extensive memory loss– often, but not always, accompanied by depression or some kind of psychosis–can also occur as the singular symptom of an under-active thyroid. If you or a loved one is being evaluated for dementia, be sure that thyroid tests are performed.
  • Problems with balance–Abnormalities in the cerebellum (the lobe at the back of the brain) that occur with an under-active thyroid can lead to gait disorders in older people.

If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is critical that you have your thyroid levels tested. Treatment of low thyroid is simple once an accurate diagnosis is made–a small pill that is taken each morning to supplement the hormone being naturally produced by your body. Talk with your doctor today to determine if you might have an under-active thyroid, and then learn more about our low-cost thyroid blood panels at www.HealthOnelabs.com or www.InquireLabs.com.


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Posted in cholesterol, disease, Men's Health, thyroid, Women's health

3 thoughts on “Think You’re Too Old for a Thyroid Problem? Think Again.

  1. healthone Post author

    One of our most popular tests in the Thyroid Panel Plus for $59. It is a great value for those that are taking thyroid medication and want to make sure their hormones are at the acceptable reference ranges. The test measures: TSH, T3 Uptake, T3, Free T3, Thyroxine (T4), Free Thyroxine Index and Free T4.
    Check out both websites that offer discount online lab blood testing: http://www.HealthOneLabs.com and http://www.InquireLabs.com

  2. Stephen Dolle

    It is nice to see more consumer driven labs & other services, while much of modern medicine, mHealth apps, and care are being witheld from consumers.

    My work with thyroid disease dates back to 1975 in my work as a nuclear medicine technologist. I also have some personal familiarities with thyroid disease, and today still feel the treatment of endocrine & autoimmune disorders are often misunderstood. And I think most of these challenges are due to undeveloped consumer medicine models.

    In my consulting work between 1990-1992, I had developed consumer care models for CASH SERVICES, where hospitals then averaged 30% reimbursement over 90 days via insurance plans, I offered programs to struggling Orange County area hospitals I had been working for 25% cash services – but they wouldn’t do it.

    Today, I remain frustrated with the lack of vision, coorperation, and technologies for consumer driven care, and it extends all the way up to oversight by Congress, the Food & Drug Administration, and related state agencies. The health and productivity of a nation are at stake, not to mention huge costs and waste of financial resounces by investing in broken and outdated systems.

    Thyroid disorders are closely connected to health & fitness, obesity, and productivity, and we owe it to ourselves to get this right. We need to implement the necessary mHealth tools to make consumer health management possible.

    ABOUT ME: I founded and operated Certified Nuclear Imaging from 1982 to 1992, while doing consulting outside of radiology and health care during those years. In 1992, I suffered an injury that led to my having hydrocephalus & living with a CNS shunt. In 1997, I designed & patented a PDA mHealth app for the disorder that was never developed due to funding, but a remains state of the art design today. I provide consulting in this space, and put on drum circles as a tool for health & team building, which I discovered following my health challenges.

  3. healthone Post author

    Great comments, Stephen. I believe the inception of third party payers took ones personal health out of their hands and into those of insurance companies. I can’t tell you how many times I hear “My doctor won’t order this test or my insurance company won’t approve this test under my insurance plan.” Sadly, this has also driven up costs. I needed an MRI for a knee issue and the insurance price was $1200 and my deductible was $5000. The cash price I negotiated was $400. I was willing to pay out of pocket and the imaging center was willing to accept that price since 1) they had instant payment for services rendered, 2) they didn’t have to use employees to work with an insurance company for payment and they probably got the same amount paid to them. I see this type of issue occur anytime I see an EOB – the price charged, the price allowed, the price you owe and the price that is not allowed. Seems unusually complicated and it does not appear to save the consumer money.


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